Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Noticer


The Noticer
Sometimes, All A Person Needs Is A Little Perspective

Jones keeps showing up, carrying an old battered suitcase, just when someone needs him. He looks like a drifter, but always offers perspective. Poverty. A failing marriage. Lost dreams. A failing business. Whatever the need, Jones seems to offer just the right cure. No one knows where he lives or when he’ll show up, but soon his reputation precedes him throughout the small community of Orange Beach, Alabama. And each person he encounters goes away better. Changed. And then, Jones disappears until he’s needed again. Jones is a compelling person. If I were making a movie, I’d cast James Earl Jones or perhaps Morgan Freeman for the part.

Author and speaker Andy Andrews tells a compelling story of hope, redemption, and restoration in a conversational tone. But as simple as the stories seem, they contain pertinent lessons in ways that people will remember them. Iin one story, he asks, “What would others change about you if they could?” In another, he helps a couple identify their love languages. And in another, he motivates a crooked businessman to change his ways.

As a GenSandwicher, I often feel I need a bit of perspective. How about you? this is a quick and enriching read. Let me know what you think.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Secret Holocaust Diaries

The Secret Holocaust Diaries by Nonna Bannister with Denise George and Carolyn Tomlin

Nonna Bannister appeared to be a typical American housewife. She married Henry, the love of her life, in 1951 and together they raised three children in Memphis, Tennessee. But Nonna was far from average. For half a century, she kept her story and her photos, documents, diaries, and dark memories from World War II locked in a trunk in her attic while living a normal life. The result is an amazing book, The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister written by Nonna Bannister with Denise George and Carolyn Tomlin (April 2009, Tyndale House), which is the haunting eyewitness account of Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister, a remarkable Russian girl who saw and survived unspeakable evils during World War II.

I was particularly drawn to this book as I look at the direction our nation is taking. This week, Congress is considering a hate crimes bill that, if passed, will severely limit free speech and even free thought of free people in this land of the free. FEMA camps have been built to deal with anticipated civil disobedience. Nonna grew up in a free land. A child of privilege, she was surrounded by a loving family. But as the Germans moved into Ukraine, her family lost everything and experienced horrors that most of us can’t imagine. Somehow this child had the foresight to write a journal in six languages and hide it in a pillow ticking, along with many one-inch square photos of her family and friends in the Ukraine.

Years later, she would slip into the attic each night. Much later, after she told her husband, Henry, about her incredible past, she showed him the stacks of yellow legal pads on which she had translated her diaries and recorded her thoughts about her past. He typed them into a manuscript. However, she requested the diary not be published until at least two or three years after she died. Henry honored this request. (She died in 2004.) The story was very painful and reminded her of the suffering her family endured. When she came to America in 1950 she was determined to make a new life for herself and to give her husband and children a happy home.

Most of the stories we hear about the Holocaust are about Jews. Although approximately six million Jews were killed by the Nazis, other nationalities experienced suffering and death as well. Nonna's family was Russian and, according to the co-authors, owned seven grain mills and homes in southern Russia and the Ukraine. They were friends with the boy Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (nicknamed "Sasha") and his mother, Taissia.

Nonna kept her secret past from her family/friends because she had, at last, found such happiness with her husband, Henry, and her three children. She didn't want to express her past pain; she didn’t want it to interrupt the family's happiness and cast a shadow of despair over them.

Despite the horrors Nonna experienced, her story is also one of God's love and forgiveness. Nonna came out of the experience with her heart filled with love. She experienced none of the bitterness and hatred that some Jewish Holocaust survivors have held onto. She was able to marry, raise children, and bring them much joy and happiness through her own love and through introducing them to God's love. This is a book well worth reading as we face changes in our nation and in our families.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

More Health Problems

Breathing. What a month! Last week I went to Mom’s for yet another round of medical appointments. Four in three days. Most of them went well, but she had biopsies on four potential skin cancers. All turned out to be positive. Now I’m trying to schedule three surgeries to remove the four cancers. Fortunately, the cancers are not serious, although one of the surgeries promises to be a challenge. We can schedule the appointments over six to eight weeks.

When I’m hit with such diagnoses, I find myself feeling smooshed again. In addi-tion to the normal concern for Mom, I confess panic at the thought of trying to schedule more than my monthly trips to her home four hours away. A trip now takes at least four days, including travel. I have class every other Saturday this quarter and am still staggering under the graduate workload. I’m also trying to work, but find that harder every week. I’m so thankful that I’m self-employed so I can determine my workload to a greater extent than if I were working for someone else. But I also find that when I’m at Mom’s I don’t multi-task well, so I always fall behind.

I talked to my brother tonight. He’ll handle the weekends following the surger-ies. Hopefully my sister can help. But once again, the responsibility for planning, scheduling, and much of the care falls to my hubby and I. I’m so grateful that I can serve in this way, but I confess. I feel smooshed. Any ideas on long distance care giving would be appreciated!

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Resurrection Day!

It’s been such a busy week. We spent from Monday through Thursday at Mom’s. She had four doctor appointments in four days, including one where he took four biopsies for possible skin cancers. Her other appointments went well, and we should be able to decrease some medications. Good news! In addition, we celebrated her 88th birthday with dinner, flowers, and gifts. We had pouring rain both directions, which added to the tension and exhaustion. We arrived home Thursday night and DS and DIL arrived Friday night, after stopping off to take Grandma to dinner.

We spent the day cooking and preparing for our guests tomorrow. It’s such fun having a daughter to help in the kitchen. Our chatter made the work go faster and I loved having another woman to give me a second opinion. The guys did guy things outside and weren’t much help until dinner. Then we renewed one of our favorite traditions – family cooking night.

We try to do a family cooking night each time the kids come. It gives us a project to do together, allows us to make a more elaborate menu than I might make alone, and teaches them some cooking skills. Add a marguerita and it’s great fun. Tonight we had one of DS’s favorites – fiesta chicken, rice, and salad. We all shared the load and lots of laughter while cooking.

Now the table is set, all of the advance preparations have been made, and we are about ready for bed. Tomorrow is Resurrection Day. He is risen indeed! We will go to church and then have a dozen people for dinner. I wanted Mom to come home with us, but she stayed home to celebrate with my brother.

I wish you the joyous reality of the resurrection and new life in Christ.